A Portable Gym Which Exercises the Mind

James Flynn writes an essay about education and intelligence, which I will read later, but Arnold Kling pulls out this paragraph:

The best chance of enjoying enhanced cognitive skills is to fall in love with ideas, or intelligent conversation, or intelligent books, or some intellectual pursuit. If I do that, I create within my own mind a stimulating mental environment that accompanies me wherever I go. Then I am relatively free of needing good luck to enjoy a rich cognitive environment. I have constant and instant access to a portable gymnasium that exercises the mind. Books and ideas and analyzing things are possessions easier to access than even the local gym.

An interesting thought, to which Arnold responds:

Fine.  But take something you are not good at.  Imagine someone giving me one of these lectures:

Arnold, the best chance of enjoying enhanced fishing skills is to fall in love with fishing, or casting, or filleting, or being in a rowboat on some smelly river at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Arnold, the best chance to enjoy penmanship is to fall in love with neat handwriting, or nicely-formed letters, or taking forever to express written thoughts.

Thanks very much–enjoyed hearing your advice. Now, if you’ll just excuse me, I’m going to do something useful with the rest of my day. The Reading Instruction gurus argue that competence comes first, enjoyment second.  That feels more right to me.

Feels more right to me, too.

3 comments on “A Portable Gym Which Exercises the Mind
  • Ben–I’d love to see you post about how you are coping with college life, e.g. the late hours, partying, studying…I always marveled at your time management, what with your steady sleep schedule, reading & workout schedules…how’s that holding up at CMC?

  • I feel this way.

    Flynn talks about how he creates the setting without delving too much into competence part of it and that’s ok. Competence is an outcome of practice and not necessarily an element of DNA.

    Arnold I guess, has taken it out of that context and gave it a new spin. I enjoyed the read still.

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